Android is a remarkably capable and scalable operating system. With over 1.5 million apps available in the Play Store, there’s almost nothing you can’t do on Android. I say almost because there’s always a need for a desktop OS. Jide, founded by two ex-Google employeers, wants to change that by bringing Android to our PCs. Last year Jide successfully funded the Remix Mini on Kickstarter: a palm-sized Android computer that can be plugged into any monitor with HDMI input. It runs a customised version of Android that feels less like a mobile OS and more like a traditional desktop experience. This month Jide has released a developers version of the operating system itself called Remix OS 2.0 and it can be installed on PCs.
Instead of carrying a Remix device that plugs into any HDMI screen, you can use Remix OS 2.0 to run Android apps on any computer. It’s based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 and Jide promises to update it constantly. Using the OS is as simple as installing it on a USB 3.0 flash drive and plugging into a PC. The desktop experience means you can move windows around, swipe from the right for notifications and settings, and even right-click. Why would you want an Android OS on a computer that presumably already has an OS? The main reason is for the apps. Assuming the computer is powerful enough to run them, you’ll be able to use any Android apps on your desktop computer. Here it is in action:
I can confirm that Remix OS 2.0 works well on touchscreen laptops, which is a necessity for playing some Android games. At the end of the day it’s still Android and doesn’t do anything ground-breaking. Instead, minor modifications to the presentation and navigation drastically changes how you use the OS. Being able to open apps in separate windows improves productivity and feels more natural than the workarounds we see on mobile devices. The more I experiment with Remix OS 2.0, the more I think it would improve the Chromebook experience.
The installation file is almost 700MB and requires an 8GB USB 3.0 flash drive. You need an Intel x86 computer with USB boot options, which rules out old Macs and some Chromebooks. System requirements aren’t too demanding as you might expect from Android, but some games might be too much for ancient computers with less than 1GB RAM. You can try it for yourself by downloading the installation file directly from Jide’s website.
Main image © Jide